Summers in Moab are marked by hot temperatures, days on the river, and the Free Concert Series: a series of four concerts put on by the Friends of the Moab Folk Festival nonprofit. Each concert this year will take place on a Friday and run from 6 to 9 p.m. at Swanny City Park (400 N. 100 W.), and, of course, admission will be free.
Each summer in Moab is marked by hot temperatures, days on the river, and the Free Concert Series: a series of four concerts put on by the Friends of the Moab Folk Festival nonprofit. Each concert this year will take place on a Friday and run from 6 to 9 p.m. at Swanny City Park (400 N. 100 W.), and, of course, admission will be free.
The lineup this year includes a diverse mix of folk, bluegrass, and blues music, with local and regional openers. This is the series’ fifth season—it started as a way to offer free music programming to the public, according to Cassie Paup, director of the Friends of the Moab Folk Festival.
The nonprofit also puts on the annual Moab Folk Festival in the fall, so the summer concert series offers an opportunity to “give back to the community, and offer arts experiences to those that maybe can’t afford the cost of a ticket,” Paup said.
When the series started five years ago, it held concerts throughout only the month of July. As it grew in size, Paup said, the nonprofit decided to spread the concerts out through the summer.
“By the last show of the summer, everyone’s getting in the groove,” she said. “We’ve come to rely on the shows as a meeting place for locals and visitors, and it’s a great way to see some incredible touring bands for free.”
The series kicks off on June 24 with the Jeremy Garrett Bluegrass Band. Garrett is a fiddle player and singer from the Grammy award-winning band, The Infamous Stringdusters. At the concert, Garrett will be playing with a number of other bluegrass players, forming a “bluegrass super group,” Paup said. Folk duo The Family Trade will open.
“There’s some great talent on tap there,” she said. “I think it’s not to be missed.”
The next concert is on July 8 with a seven-piece band from the San Francisco Bay Area: Con Brio. The band has performed concerts around the world and plays energetic rhythm and blues music.
“It’s going to be big dance fun,” Paup said. The Nanites, a local Moab trio, will open.
On July 29, Los Mocochetes, a funk band from Colorado with roots in Mexico, will headline—the band creates “revolutionary music you can dance to, with heartfelt intention to move us all forward, together, as one,” according to the band’s bio. The Shangalu, a Colombian band Paup met at a Market on Center event last year, will open.
Food and drink profits from the July 29 concert will be donated to the Moab Valley Multicultural Center, Paup said.
The final concert of the series on August 19 features Big Richard, an all-women bluegrass band from Colorado, opened by Lizzy Plotkin and Natalie Spears. Big Richard started as a festival collaboration between mandolin player Bonnie Sims, cello player Joy Adams, bass and guitar player Emma Rose, and fiddle player Eve Panning, but turned into a “passion project driven by sisterhood, harmony, and humor,” according to the band.
“Now they’re playing big gigs, and we just happened to be on the way,” Paup said. “I’m thrilled.”
This year’s series marks the return to full programming, Paup said. Due to pandemic concerns, the concerts were canceled in 2020 and whittled down to three shows in 2021. She loves that the concerts are such a go-to for locals and visitors alike—a comment on a survey done last year said the series is like “Moab’s living room,” she said.
“It feels like we’re back,” Paup said. “And we’ve got a really strong line-up.”